Completely inoffensive atheist ad offends a bus company

From Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, we find that the following ad, proposed for use on buses in Pennsylvania, was considered offensive and hence rejected by the bus company.

The company rejected it on the grounds that it could be “deemed controversial or otherwise spark public debate.”

That, despite, the report on Justin Vacula’s website that the same bus company ran an ad for a website pushing white supremicist and Holocaust-denialist views.

Are we becoming like Muslims in the sense that something this tame is considered deeply offensive?  How less strident can an ad be?

75 Comments

  1. Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    They’ve got to be able to sue on grounds of religious discrimination, surely. That’s really blatant.

    • Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      Ah, I see from the original post that American Atheists has in fact threatened legal action. Good.

  2. Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    The lack-of-belief that dare not speak its name… 

    /@

    • DocAtheist
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Yes, you’d almost think it said “Voldemort”!

  3. Griff
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    In contrast to the advert I recently saw on a train station in Bath (UK) “The fool denies in his heart the existence of god”.

    That’s ok though, it was in Bible-babble.

    • James C. Trager
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      Now that is offensive!

      • Griff
        Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        I WAS offended. Luckily for them, I do not I have the right NOT to be offended, even when directly insulted, and would not threaten legal action or violence.

        Sadly, theists rarely extend the same latitude.

        I did consider contacting the relevent authrity and asking for an advert stating “Christians are idiots” to be placed alongside it. I have a feeling it wouldn’t have gone down too well. Perhaps it would be different if I used bible-babble type speech?

        • Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

          Matthew 5:22, KJV: “Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Just print it out and stick it up next to it. No other text.

          • Griff
            Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:06 am | Permalink

            I think they rarely read their own self-contradictory holy book

          • DV
            Posted February 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

            Luke 12:20 (KJV) “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”

            • Circe
              Posted February 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

              Now I am thoroughly confused. Putting your and David’s quote together, the wannabe logician in me deduces that God has doomed herself to hellfire, and that putting David’s quote together with what Griff said, it seems any Christians calling anybody an atheist automatically become doomed for hellfire?

              • Kharamatha
                Posted March 5, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

                Yes.

    • Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      “Whereas the wise man denies in his mind the existence of God.”

      /@

      • DV
        Posted February 29, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        And the offensive strident man denies in his speech the existence of God.

  4. Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    You have to leave out the A the I the S the T and the S….

    • S A GOULD
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      There is a way… I did this as a button. (Sadly, I do not know how to attach a jpg of it to show you..)

      A
      THE
      IS+

      Is it a lower case t, a plus or a cross? You have to THINK before deciding if you’re offended or not.

  5. Jacob van Beverningk
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    And what’s wrong with ‘public debate’ anyway?

    • truthspeaker
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      It’s unamerican. Just go with the flow. Go along to get along. Don’t ask questions. Don’t speak your mind. Are you a terrorist?

      • Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Of course he is. Dutch name. That’s like German, right? Nazi.

      • Filippo
        Posted February 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        I thought it was “unamuricun.” ;)

    • sasqwatch
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      We don’t need no steenkin’ public debate.

    • Kharamatha
      Posted March 5, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      If you love French Hitler-Soviet so much, why don’t you move there?

  6. Griff
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I love the fact that they were concerned that it might “spark public debate” – because, as we all know, the purpose of advertising is NOT to get a product noticed.

    • S A GOULD
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Yes! But… I really think they just said that. I really think they’re just cowards.

  7. rhetoric
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    So they couldn’t just come out and say that they think we are all Satan worshipers, ergo, there is no friggin’ way we will ever put your Pagan crap on our bus?

  8. Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    You can offend atheists but not christains,muslims etc. 2012- no its still the Dark Ages.

  9. Martin
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Or is it the phrase ‘freethought’ that was considered offensive?

  10. Neil
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I am sure if someone puts the words “Go to hell” in front of the word “Atheists”, the company will find the sign completely unoffensive.

    • S A GOULD
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      +3

  11. Tulse
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Our very existence is offensive.

  12. GBJames
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Waaaay too shrill!

    • S A GOULD
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Gotta disagree with you on that. Helvetica is just about the blandest, most inoffensive font there is.

      Now, had they set it in Goudy Oldstyle… well! Different story entirely!

      • Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        Actually, I don’t think it is Helvetica. If it were, the ends of the “s” would be cut off horizontally… 

        /@

        • Tulse
          Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

          Definitely not Helvetica.

          • sasqwatch
            Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

            OK. Hellvetica, then.

            • Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

              But we don’t believe in “down there” either!

              Actually any “sans” typeface would do… ;-)

              /@

          • Posted February 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            Yes, but it wouldn’t exist were it not for Helvetica.

            I’ve long since decided that, given a choice between Adobe’s Helvetica Neue and another typeface that could be mistraken for Helvetica without careful examination, you better have a damned good reason for not going with the original. It just works so phenomenally well, and nearly all the latecomers introduce problems just so they can distinguish themselves from the reigning champ.

            Cheers,

            b&

            • Tulse
              Posted February 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

              given a choice between Adobe’s Helvetica Neue and another typeface that could be mistraken for Helvetica without careful examination, you better have a damned good reason for not going with the original

              Please tell that to Arial.

              • Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

                Arial has at least one thing going for it: it sucks less than any other of Microsoft’s Core Fonts for the Web, and precisely because it’s not the worst Helvetica clone I’ve seen.

                I mean, it could have been Papyrus!

                b&

            • Posted February 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

              Ah, but Franklin Gothic (which I’m fairly confident that this is) predates Helvetica by 55 years…

              /@

              • Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

                How dare you ruin my Internet anecdote by pointing out an anachronism!

                b&

              • Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

                Sorry, Ben. I you like, ignore the evidence and just go on believing that Helvetica is the font of all san serif typefaces… ;-P

                /@

              • Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

                Indeed, I shall.

                And ain’t it a shame that they never made any sequels to either Star Wars or the Matrix. Can you imagine how awesome that would have been? Same with Alien and Aliens — only two is not enough!

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Kharamatha
                Posted March 5, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

                “Sorry, Ben. I you like, ignore the evidence and just go on believing that Helvetica is the font of all san serif typefaces… ;-P”

                Ooo, damn! That was good.

        • Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

          PS. My guess is Franklin Gothic.

  13. Sigh
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Bus company… you never go full retard…

  14. MAUCH
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Take a look at Planet of The Apes today to see what Santorum has for us.

    Separation of Church & State

    http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/evolution/Ad-Nauseum-Separation-of-Church-and-State-keeps-Creationism-out-of-Schools–.html

    The intriguing comments as well as the excellent article will be of interest.

    ——–

    How can someone even attempt to talk about education to someone who thinks genesis is science?

  15. Sigmund
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    They should resubmit it to the bus company with the single word changed to “Theists” – just to see what happens!

  16. Llwddythlw
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a job for the FFRF, if they’re not already involved.

  17. Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    FFRF.org (Freedom From Religion Foundation) is a great (large) group of non-believers/freethinkers which pursues many indiscretions by NON-thinkers using public ads for fairytales (religion) and have won numerous lawsuits against nitwits who think bleating “prayers” in public schools, et al, is just so fine ‘n dandy. We need more watchdogs like FFRF.org!!

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 1, 2012 at 2:24 am | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more. Everyone should join.

  18. Steve
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Could it have been the use of the period after the word atheist that push this ad over the line?

    • Tulse
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      They’re offended by punctuation?

      • Matt G
        Posted February 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        An exclamation point would be, like, totally over the top! Now what if it were a question mark…?

  19. Ken Pidcock
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Personally, living in northeastern Pennsylvania, I can’t blame COLT for insisting on the threat of legal action. The region is rich with pre-V2 Catholics who live to play victim. Better they attack the law than my bus company.

    • eric
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      I am a little confused. Are you saying you’d be happier with COLT not running the ad, vs. running it and risking civil unrest?

      Isn’t that blaming the victim? If someone attacks a bus over the ad, the law should be defending the bus, not the attacker.

      • Ken Pidcock
        Posted February 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        I was just being cynical. COLT does the right thing and accepts the ad, it catches hell. COLT does the wrong thing and blocks the ad, then waits for legal action, it gets to say, Hey, we would love to pander to you all, but we have no choice.

        Which reaction was anticipated by NEPA Freethought, that being the genius of their action.

  20. Posted February 29, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Debate is just about tolerable in private between consenting adults, but in public? The mind boggles; it could lead to an outbreak of rationality!

  21. DV
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    They should have used “Brights”. We all know “Atheist” is a bad word.

  22. dunstar
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    lol. Atheists scare religious people because we’re party poopers of their fantasies. Just look at the interaction between a homeopathist and say a biochemist, physical chemist, etc. when they are together in the same room and are discussing science. lolz.

    Homeopathist know their “craft” is complete bullshit but they gotta do it to scam ppl and make a living. That’s why they’re so accepting of others who are willing or are on board with homeopathy because the more they convince ppl to do it the better it is for them. It’s the exact same thing with religion. The more they can get to believe and not question it the better off they are. And Atheists by definition without even saying a word go completely against this mentality. lolz. They’re scared of the very word.

  23. eric
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    “[Atheism is] dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!” Quote from Il. State legislator Monique Davis, April 2008, in an open legislative session.

    I guess more theists still consider it dangerous than will admit, eh?

  24. Posted February 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Well, there goes my bus ad. It would have read:

    Jesus died so you could fondle his intestines.*


    *John 20:27

    Oh, well.

    b&

  25. Posted February 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Another excellent data point to indicate that the parasites are rightly scared out of their palaces by the very presence of rationality.

    • Dermot C
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Yes…

      “People who want to share their religious views with you, almost never want you to share yours with them.”

      Dave Barry

      • Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

        This whole ‘battle’ is an exact but metaphorical parallel to the manner with which the various members of the Mafia or Cosa Nostra deal with a phalanx of honest cops.
        An almost exact simile, if one allows ‘firearms’ to interchange with ‘outright lies and sheer fraud’ as a first approximation as to ammunition.

        • Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

          It might have been subliminal, but one Tim Minchin (Aussie!) phrased it more thelyphthorically than I when he penned his too-little-know beat-poem: “Storm”.

          Storm to her credit despite my derision
          Keeps firing off clichés with startling precision
          Like a sniper using bollocks for ammunition

          Too often arms imitate art.

          • GBJames
            Posted March 1, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

            “Storm”. An excellent bit of art. More should see it.

            • Posted March 1, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

              To that end, how about a link?

              /@

  26. Filippo
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    What if the ad said “Tsiehta”?

    Thoughts come to mind (perhaps a bit silly):

    How about “Agnostic”?

    “Are you Agnostic about your Diagnosis”?

    How about, “Women are not subservient to Men”?

    How about “Athorist”? “Afairiest”?

    If not that, “Freethinking”? After all, we live in “The Land of the Fee and the Home of the Brave.” (Or is it “Land of Fee and the Home of the Craven”?)

    How about posting the question: “How Old Is the Earth? How Do You Know?”

    Or, “Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve”?

    • microraptor
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      How about a picture of a church with the caption “Help, help! I’m being repressed!”

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 1, 2012 at 2:38 am | Permalink

        Now, that’s actually not such a bad idea…
        :D

  27. jo5ef
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    How about:
    “Atheists. Sorry!

    • Griff
      Posted March 1, 2012 at 12:58 am | Permalink

      Or “Atheists. Yes, we do exist”

  28. Posted March 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    This is actually a good sign that they are running scared. They know their ideas cannot face science and reason.


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